Don't Pick These Daisies

You normally don't equate California's Death Valley with lush landscapes, but the U.S. park rangers are reporting that the desert's hills are alive with wildflowers this month.

In fact, the wildflower display there has been deemed the best in 50 years. On CBS News Sunday Morning, correspondent Jerry Bowen shows why one of the hottest spots in America has become a very cool place to visit.

According to the Web site for Death Valley National Park, the southern end is now ablaze with gold, and the bloom is expected to move north and into the higher elevations through mid-April.

The park has 1,032 varieties of plants, including desert gold, sand vebena, brown-eyed evening primrose, golden evening primrose, white brittlebush, rock daisy, paintbrush, poppies, Joshua tree, Mojave wildrose , mariposa lilies, Panamint daisies and phacelia. Colors range from white and yellow to blue, purple, red and bright magenta.

The reason for the full bloom, rangers say, is an extraordinary amount of rainfall in spots that average just two inches of rain a year. Rainfall for the season has reached 6.19 inches, surpassing all previous records, and is now headed into uncharted territory.

There has been rain in every month since August, with over 2 1/2 inches during the last week of December and first week of January.

Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the world with summer temperatures often topping 120 degrees. The highest temperature ever recorded there was 134 degrees in the summer of 1913.

The best areas for viewing are Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn and the base of Daylight Pass and, from April through early May, the Panamint Mountains. In the higher elevations of the Panamints, above 4,000 feet, the bloom could continue until early June.

The Park Service is eager to have visitors enjoy this unusual spring landscape but has one caveat: Please don't pick the daisies!